Picture this: an artsy outdoor music community, paired with crisp mountain air in the flatlands of Colorado. It’s sunny, mid-80ss, nice and dry, wildlife surrounding you…now picture yourself up front and center dancing your face off at the main stage with awesome music and 8 thousand others until sunrise.
Hello Sonic Bloom Music Festival!!
A more intimate music festival than others, Sonic Bloom hosts just shy of 10k people. The now permanent venue, Hummingbird Ranch, is nestled in the high desert of Rye, Colorado, just an easy 2.5h drive straight south of Denver on I-25.
This one was such a welcoming and chill festival for me compared to other hardcore party festivals I’ve attended. My camp mates and I were having a comically difficult time trying to set up camp with wind gusts of 40+mph. However, Our camping neighbors didn’t hesitate to come help 2 damsels in distress. Two strangers kindness paved the way for what would be a baller camping crew at Sonic Bloom.
If people only knew the true beauty behind my reasons of attending music festivals and the eccentricities they hold these days. Let me try and explain- it was so easy at Sonic Bloom -The freedom to be my unique self, to thrive with my goofiness, where whatever the heck I wanted and dance my ass off with absolutely no judgments. It’s A judgment free zone, an environment where I can 100% be myself and people appreciate me for ME. They love themselves and love you for your true mystical being! Who wouldn’t want to feel free?
This year the ages at Bloom ranged anywhere from cooking in the oven to people jammin’ in their 70s! There were quite a few families and children frolicking around the ranch at any given time. It was just the cutest thing seeing a 10y old on her dads shoulders rocking out to Desert Dwellers at Bloom! The art installations, family friendly areas and unique stages built to host big name DJs, acoustic groups and artists set the atmosphere for the weekend.
Fair warning before we get going – some camping essentials:
Make sure you have heavy duty stakes and a hardcore rainfly for your tent and goggles (yup like burner googles!) especially if you wear contacts -bring eye drops. Add a bandana to the list to cover your nose and mouth from the plethora of dust attacking you. Unforuately the wind gusts were up to 60mph on the first 2 days, and a steady 20mpg the next few.
If you’re ok camping in the open sunshine, make sure you have a SOLID EZ up tent and if it’s too windy, take off the canopy and lower it. Many EZ ups moved on to EZ-up heaven after the wind storm on day 1.
If you get the early admission, you’ll have a chance to haul your items from parking to the shaded stream area and nab some of the shade. Sadly, Colorado was in a bit of a drought this year and the stream was non existent – but the trees were still abundant!
Hot outdoor Showers were available for nine dollars a washin’ and if you forgot a towel, you can rent one for 3 bucks. Sore from all those deep dance lunges by day 3? I got an hour delightful massage for $80 … seemed a little pricey but eh, much needed.
Every night was quite the view seeing the sun gently set behind the mountain tops. Hosting an array of oranges, pinks and purples dancing in the sky as everyone transformed into their evening attire.
Let’s talk Sonic Bloom music:
Three main stages made up sonic bloom for music and artists – Bloom, which was the main stage, Meadow and Hummingbird stage.
The visuals for bloom were quite amazing including laser shows and extremely realistic visuals on a giant projector that seemed almost 3D. Every night many fell spell to the lasers of Bloom. One night it was pouring rain, adding an even more amazing effect to the lasers while Dirtwire killed their set.
Meadow stage hosted a wicked animated laser show on a set of trees each night to the music.
Hummingbird was a smaller more intimate stage and I always found myself being a bit overwhelmed with the jam packed crowd and heat there….
The tunes typically started around 5ish daily and went til 2a and sometimes sunrise.
What a fun lineup they had !!!
Liquid Stranger, Sphongle, nightmares on Wax, Eoto, Dirtwire, Toubab Krewe and Sonic Bloom Orchestra we’re just a few of the big names at Bloom 18’. Nightmares on Wax set was completely different than anything I’ve ever seen – the set was as if someone took a living room out of a 1950s house and placed it on the Bloom Stage. That was a unique setup. The soul, the vibes and the message were well received by the crowd. I was up front and center for this and every time a band member sang, my heart melted with love and I felt so connected to the band. That was a truly amazing set.
The night Dirtwire was jamming, Mother Nature decided to grace us with her presence of a downpour for almost the entire set. If anything, that just amped up the energy. Didn’t stop the eclectic electronic country folk beats of their music. Such a funky sound that is so easy to dance to.
The main attraction was Sphongle- the main reason my brother went to Bloom. It was funkier than usual and a treat to see. Android Jones provided the digital visuals for the set and those were just mind blowing – I have no idea how he comes up with those sets – eyes and cells and crazy art all mind teasing you in different ways and making your eyes play tricks on you. It was the perfect visual to pair with Sphongle’s psychedelic electronic vibe.
There were so many amazing sets, but my personal favorite was Brandon aka “Birocratic.” He’s up and coming fast on the industry and I truly believe he deserves some mad recognition. i
Imagine funky smooth jazz and electronic beats making a baby- now add Brandon himself playing the bass live during a set-What?!? Yes please! *crushing hard* He slayed his set at the Meadow stage. Brandon is so playful with the crowd and truly takes off from our vibes and thrives on that for his performance. Not only is he a DJ, but a talented musician and that was definitely noted during his set. During an interview Brandon said “I like to change it up every time, make it spicy and different.” When asked what animal he would be – “aren’t we animals already?” One of his pet peeves – “ when i go to address the audience and tell slow pace old dad joke in the middle of a set and my mic is off”
A comedian, musician and a DJ? You’re a cool dude. Go check him out!He just finished touring with Exmag and even played with members of the Pretty Lights band in Denver recently!
I could go on forever about all the sets and experiences I encountered… but during a group artists interview, the favorite sets consensus were Break science and Maddy O’Neal.
All that cardio easily built up an appetite. That’s where the variety of food trucks come into play. If you didn’t feel like exiting the grounds and making the 5-20m walk back to your campsite, you could find the food nestled at the festival entrance. Options included everything from Thai, Greek, Cajun, vegan dip N dots, regular ice cream, pizza, coffee, Mac n Cheese, smoothies and more! There were a hearty amount of vegetarian options, a few vegan and many meat lover dishes. Something that stood out to me was a new trend going around~ CBD (Cannabidiol) infused beverages! I found this offering at the Starwater Cafe next to the main stage, where you could get CBD infused coffee, tea and espresso! For those who don’t know, CBD is a part of the cannabis plant and is used as a pain reliever, anti inflammatory and anxiety reducer! Perfect for those in need at a festival! They also offered CBD free beverages as well.
Definitely bring your coffee mug – as the drink vendors happily used your mug! Also a reusable water bottle- plenty of free water stations scattered throughout the camping and festival grounds !
On a surprising note- many food vendors refused to use my bowl or plate (trying to enforce the no single use here and save the planet one plate at a time)..that was a bit of a shock.
Side note: be prepared if you have Wednesday early entry! The food vendors weren’t open until Thursday at dinner time. Make sure you bring snacks and some solid food for the first day and a half before they open the general public gates! Almost all vendors took both card and cash. Heck, I even paid for a cup of joe by singing a song to the vendor and giving a nice hug :)
After you danced for hours and grabbed a bite to eat, it was time to relax and charge back up. There were lots of cuddle puddle areas with pillows and interactive art installations spread amongst the ranch in between stages….including my favorite spot – the Oracle Portal. A place with a sanctuary, pillows, rugs and the perfect safe haven space to get away from the crowds and breathe in between sets. You could nestle yourself on giant rope hammock sprung amongst the trees or land one of the hundreds of hammocks nestled in the forest for afternoon nap time, or even lounge in one surrounding the Hummingbird stage!
I’m a huge music fan, but these festivals also host a variety of fun workshops like yoga, sound healings, meditations, partner classes and Acro yoga! I attended a Sound medicine workshop on Friday – Wowzers talk about an intense energy release and huge sense of welcoming. Big shout out to Joseph Rolley and Shawn Hurley for holding space for people to let go, be silly and feel comfortable to thrive at the festival!
But the true release of energy was Lindsay Balgooyen’s 2 hour breathwork and cacao ceremony workshop at The Academy- a space for workshops and seminars. Her brother was alongside her as well as a full music group that provided the backdrop for 2 hours of breathwork – where we slowly breathed in through our mouth followed by a partial exhale… this style took us to a cosmic level- almost an out of body experience allowing one to connect with themselves on a level our normal consciousness would not allow. There I am – crying my eyes out, then laughing hysterically, then being still and peaceful. I adore breathwork classes for these very reasons- after you’re done you feel so RELIEVED and such release on anything holding you back. This gives you a huge confidence and energy boost, naturally, resulting in an intense craving to dance it all out on the dance floor.
So overall, Sonic Bloom and many other festivals are more than just music – they’re connections, they’re release, freedom, talent, experiences, art and full of love, wicked dance moves and hugs all around –
After all, a wise group of musicians once said
“All you need is Love.”
Thanks to my good friend Melissa for attending and covering Sonic Bloom in my place. I’m spending the summer in Europe, but so happy she was able to document her experience so beautifully! Follow Melissa on Instagram for behind the scene actions of her next level.
Looking for more music festivals…?
Be sure to check out a few of my other articles to start planning your next adventure